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Bio-climatic redevelopment of the historic center of Larissa
City/Region : Municipality of Larissa , Greece

The project is about the reconstruction and renovation of a 25.000sqm area in the center of the city with the intention to lower the ground temperature by 1,5oC, while addressing functional and aesthetic issues of the area and the unification of monuments and archaeological sites. It includes the pedestrianization of five roads, reconstruction of three public squares, water elements, the increase of greenery by 40%, the use of cool materials, renewable resources (photovoltaics for public lighting, ground-to-air geothermic installation), low energy public lighting and the creation of shaded areas and corridors (with a network of metallic elements and photocatalytic materials).

Agendas addressed
Climate changePublic space
Pathways followed
  • Wisely select and apply smart technologies
Context
Pedestrian street El.Venizelou

Interventions for the regeneration of urban open spaces and the organisation of a network of open spaces present great difficulties. The historic centers of Greek cities are most problematic since they are usually enclosed within a continuous building system, where the building is high, the roads are narrow and there is a lack of free spaces.

In these cases, the only "free space" is the road, which accepts all sorts of commuters (pedestrians, cars, public transport, bicycles, suppliers, etc). The bioclimatic intervention was chosen to be implemented in a part of the Historic Center of the city, within the central dense urban fabric of Larissa, with the problem of climate degradation (thermal islet). The bioclimatic goal was to improve microclimate (lowering the maximum summer temperature by at least 1,5oC and the thermal comfort by at least 15%).

In Action
Area of intervention (before)

Larissa was the first Greek city to implement a long-term project of pedestrian roads, beginning in the ‘80s and continuing today, covering an area of 40 city squares in the center, with a 10km network of pedestrian roads. The bioclimatic project in Frourio added to the city strategy of connecting the area to the network of urban open spaces (three public squares, pedestrian roads, the Alkazar urban park, the Peneus river) and cultural heritage sites (Ancient Theater, Bezesteni, Basilica, Mill of Papas), the Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan on discouraging the use of car and promotin walking / cycling, as well as the city policies for the upgrade of environmental indicators (mitigating climate change, use of renewable resources, energy efficiency) and urban space (improving public space, accessibility to monuments and green spaces, aesthetic upgrade of the area), encouraging local economy (increase of visitors, creation of new enterprises, re-opening of closed shops, keep existing residents / attract new).

Mr George Soultis, Deputy Mayor of Technical Works, Infrastructure and Civil Protection considers this "a significant and innovative project for our city, that contributes to the upgrade of the Frourio Hill Area and its connection with the public spaces network, the archaeological sites and monuments. It also changes the image of the area as an isolated space, previously used mainly as an opportunistic parking space".

Area of intervention (acres)

6,25

Pedestrian roads (m) / open spaces (m2)

720 / 15.300

Green spaces (m2)

2.100 (from 1.500m2 – 40% increase)

Cool materials (m2)

13.200 m2 (1.194m of pedestrian roads, cool asphalt, blocks)

Shaded areas (m2)

2.100

Public lighting (n.items)

115 lamps (LED technology)

Photovoltaics (KW)

6,5KW

Meteorological station (n.items)

1

 

 

In 2011 the Municipality of Larissa responded to a public call by the Greek Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change for the National Operational Program "Environment – Sustainable Development". During the planning phase, the project went through the approval of the archaeological services and the Architectural and Urban Planning Committee. The project was approved for funding at the end of 2013, the call for tenders was in 2014, the works began in 2015 and the project was completed in 2016. Both the plan and the implementation received an award in the "Ecopolis" competition in 2012 (in the "Local Authority" category) and 2017 (in the "Urban Reconstruction" category).

Results
Area of intervention (after)

The Bioclimatic Intervention in Frourio Hill combined elements of environmental design, urban development, public spaces, cultural heritage, and tourism, adding on previous projects and advancing towards long-term planning goals. 6,25 acres’ was added to the center of the city as a high-quality public space, also acting as a paradigm of the city’s committment to design and implement multi-faced projects that improve the overall quality of urban environment.

The improvement of microclimate, particularly the decrease of surface and air temperatures during summer for at least 1,5οC was exceeded by far since the difference was actually at least 10οC. A typical example is that during the period of measurements the surface temperature of the asphalted roads around the Horse square fluctuated between 45-47°C, while in the corresponding shaded part of the square did not exceed the 26°C.

The achievements of the pedestrianization and renovation of roads and squares and the removal of cars from the area are:

  • The connection of the riverside area (important in terms of biodiversity and flora) with the center of the city and the urban environment, through the existing and proposed routes via green spaces, recreation areas, history and culture
  • The reduction of air pollution
  • The creation of passages for green and nature through the city via the new pedestrian streets
  • The addition of new nodes to the network of open spaces, promoting the unification of archaeological and cultural sites within the urban area

The promotion of the historical and cultural identity of the city through the reinforcement of the pedestrian streets network, incorporating the significant monuments of the central area

Impact

The area of intervention includes three densely built building blocks, with residential, commercial, tourism, services and food/recreation uses, the minster of St. Achillios and large green spaces. The fact that Frourio Hill is part of the center of the city, enhanced the impacts of the bioclimatic intervention, since it affected the residents, the shops, the professionals with offices in the area, the students attending lessons in tutor schools, the operation of the minster, the visitors that frequent the Hill sightseeing or having coffee/meals, the owners of apartments/shops since after the completion there was a boom in home rentals and reopening of closed shops.

The environmental impact was also very impressive since, from the first measurements that followed the completion of the project (April 2016), the results of the microclimate of the area were evident. The analytical temperature measurements were carried out in the intervention area for the initial evaluation and certification of the environmental and energy benefits of the project. In particular, there was a decrease of at least 10°C for outdoor air temperature conditions of 30°C (in comparison with the previous situation) as well as temperature differences more than 13,5°C between shaded and unshaded parts. The meteorological station that was installed as part of the project constantly measures atmospheric elements (temperature, wind, humidity, thermal comfort, rain, atmospheric pressure, etc) that are available in http://www.larissa-dimos.gr/weather/larftp1/index2.html.

Those results were proof of the efficiency of the project in terms of re-designing and upgrading public open spaces with the goal to improve microclimate conditions and thermal comfort, as well as to create attractive spaces for citizens.

Challenges and lessons learned
Area of intervention (pedestrian street behind the theater)

The main challenge for us was the creation of the shading and cooling areas due to two issues: firstly, the selection of the techniques and secondly, the implementation of the chosen solutions. In Greece, neither photocatalytic materials nor geothermic installations were used or implemented in large public spaces, so a close cooperation with experts was imperative for the success of the project.

The most important lessons were the experiences of our staff about the introduction and incorporation of new techniques and technologies to "classic" infrastructures and the cooperation with specialized experts for the creation of a quality innovative project.

Approval of funding
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Contact

ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability
European Secretariat

Leopoldring 3
79098 Freiburg
Germany

Tel.: +49 (0) 761 – 368 92 0
Fax: +49 (0) 761 – 368 92 19

E-mail: info@sustainablecities.eu
Website: www.sustainablecities.eu

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